Dr. Alex Joffe

Dr. Alex Joffe

Dr. Alex Joffe

Alex Joffe (Ph.D. University of Arizona). Specializes in ancient and modern Middle Eastern studies, American foreign policy, and American cultural politics.

BDS, Antisemitism, and Class

| October 15, 2019

Contemporary antisemitism has the ability to graft itself onto a variety of causes and movements. But the social and information environment in the US and Europe is strongly conditioned by virtue-signaling among elites and increasingly among portions of the middle class. Antisemitism, in part through BDS-fueled antipathy toward Israel, is becoming a signal of middle class respectability. At the same time, though left-wing Western elites remain strongly anti-national, the working classes and other parts of the middle class are becoming renationalized. These and other class conflicts will shape antisemitism in the next decades.

0

The Tlaib-Omar Trainwreck: A First Assessment

| August 16, 2019

The Israeli decision to ban US Representatives Tlaib and Omar on the basis of their support for BDS has elicited a firestorm of comments from Israel’s detractors and supporters. The decision, warranted but unnecessary, illustrates the deep dysfunction that has come to characterize US-Israeli relations. The poisoning of American attitudes initiated by President Obama and the hysteria that accompanies everything associated with President Trump (and Prime Minister Netanyahu) set the stage for Tlaib and Omar to create a lose-lose situation for Israel. Their trip would have resulted in condemnations at the end, or worse. But the manner in which Israeli public diplomacy failed to make its case shows bad situational awareness and crisis management that was unable to overcome the Congresswomen’s bad faith or Trump’s unwanted intervention.

0

The UN Agency for Palestinians Is Even Worse Than You Think It Is

and | August 11, 2019

A corruption scandal involving sexual misconduct, nepotism, retaliation against whistleblowers, and lots of business-class travel has gripped the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). It represents a new low for UNRWA and is an indictment of the idea of an international agency dedicated to a single interest. But it’s also a unique opportunity to see behind the curtain of a billion-dollar UN bureaucracy and phase it out.

0

The Social Geography of the BDS Movement and Antisemitism

| August 8, 2019

An original analysis of the global distribution of BDS Internet searches revealed disproportionate interest in countries such as New Zealand, Ireland, and Sweden, as well as in coastal US states with large academic institutions. In the former regions there are few Jews and little contact with Israel, while in the latter, there are many Jews but proportionately fewer Christian supporters of Israel. A simple explanation for these patterns is that BDS interest correlates with post-Christian contexts in which Jews are relatively absent, or with “white” class anxiety emanating from academia. In the US, growing negativity about Israel in liberal Western communities is likely a class-based transfer of anxiety regarding ”white privilege” onto Israel and Jews.

0

A Memo to Jared

A recent report indicates that President Trump’s son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner suggested that then Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and other policy makers read a January 2018 Wall Street Journal piece regarding the cutoff of American funding for UNRWA, the international agency for Palestinian ‘refugees.’ As authors of the piece referenced in the leak, we are flattered. With the administration’s much discussed peace plan to be announced in June, let us offer some last minute suggestions.

0

The Antisemitism Crisis in the Democratic Party

| March 20, 2019

The Democratic Party has been overtaken by an antisemitism crisis, a process of ”Corbynization” akin to that of the British Labour Party. The process’s three principal proponents, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, and Ilhan Omar, personify three components – socialism, Palestinianism, and Islamism – given impunity by the concept of “intersectionality.” The trajectory of their red-green alliance is leading the Democratic Party towards socialism. For American Jews, this means their deep allegiance to the Democratic Party over many generations has been rewarded with abandonment and suspicion. For Israel, there is the prospect of a future Democratic administration that advocates its destruction. For the rest of the world, the party’s severe inward turn portends global retreat.

0

The Failure of Palestinian Nationalism

| March 10, 2019

The Warsaw Conference demonstrated that the popularity of the Palestinian cause continues to decline, suggesting that Palestinian nationalism has failed. Historically, the positive elements of Palestinian nationalism have been offset by its negative features, including reliance on antisemitism and negation of the Other. Pressures from above, in the form of Arab and Islamic identities, and tribal and clan pressures from below have impeded the development of a stable national identity. At the same time, strong state security institutions protect elites while weak social welfare institutions create dependence, mostly on foreign aid. While continued development of the Palestinian economy is encouraging, the contradictions of Palestinian nationalism are not easily resolved.

0

Americans’ Two Conceptions of Israel

and | February 19, 2019

While the Trump presidency has forced clarity in the US on many domestic and foreign policy issues, the status of Israel in American politics and culture reveals different visions of America itself. One, for lack of a better term, is traditionally American. The other is decidedly “progressive.” But according to both, Israel is mythical and outsized.

0

Explaining the Trump Doctrine

| December 18, 2018

The Trump administration’s transactional doctrine appears to be based on Donald Trump’s personality and experiences, not on abstract theory about the behavior of states. According to that doctrine, successful relationships can be had with countries that share views regarding mutual benefit. Trump tramples norms that his predecessor, Barack Obama, sought to reinforce for the benefit of the international system and its servants. Obama’s doctrine, like Trump’s, was an emanation of his own personality.

0

Supporting Faculty on Israel: Now More than Ever

and | December 16, 2018

The on-campus boycott, divest, and sanctions movement (BDS) has benefited greatly from the normalizing of anti-Semitism in the US and around the world. The American university is now in many instances a toxic environment for both students and faculty who have an open mind about Israel. Those faculty who risk their jobs, tenure, and grant funding to speak openly on Israel’s behalf need support now more than ever.

0